Too much information

The other week a well-known vehicle data check company launched a new feature which they clearly hoped they’d be able to sell to subscribers until they realised that they had unleashed hell on the dealer network.

On the face of it the said function could have been quite a useful tool for consumers as it gave information on whether a vehicle has had any major bodywork, which is an added feature to the information given on insurance write off categories which of course are essential when presenting a vehicles provenance.

For example a 3 year old car which has been declared a write off by an insurance company would be worth less than half its normal value even if the repairs had been carried out to an acceptable standard.
You will remember the old days when the phrase “cut and shut” were prevalent and many buyers were stung when buying at first glance cheap cars only to find they were potential death traps and were worthless.

The industry has no doubt cleaned up its act since then and although there are some isolated cases the crooks can no longer wash these cars through the auctions or sell them on the open market because buyers can get access to vehicle provenance checks through the likes of HPI or Experian. These services go a long way in protecting them against buying the wrong car.

The problem with this latest “feature” for the car trade is that the vehicle data check company in question were publishing information on any car that had an insurance claim resulting in work being carried out in an attempt to show potential buyers the true picture about the history of a car. Unfortunately anyone who has had dealings with bodyshops and insurance claims can tell you that even some fairly minor cosmetic damage can result in thousands of pounds being spent.

This can give the impression to buyers that the car is some kind of wreck when in reality, with the amount of cars on the road and the amount of minor shunts that happen daily, there can hardly be a car out there that hasn’t had some kind of work carried out on it. None of this means the car is not fit for purpose or that there is anything sinister about it.

After complaints by the industry this feature was quietly pulled this week and although the intention was probably right the scaremongering effect that this could have caused would have dealt a severe blow to an industry that is already under severe pressure, especially in the used car sector.

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